Catalyst S+F Brings Flash Sales to Ad Buying

Media consultancy launches 'Gilt Groupe for the media community'

Marketing consultancy Catalyst S+F has come up with a new way to connect media buyers with ad inventory—and for inspiration, it looked to consumer sales sites like Gilt Groupe.

Catalyst partner Christian Arens said the new service, called Good Buys Media, originated in the consultancy's work with ad tech companies. As ad networks proliferate, it's harder for them to differentiate themselves and to convince media buyers that they offer premium inventory. If those networks just want to fill the inventory, they could sell it on ad exchanges, but there are drawbacks, he said.

"An exchange really does take the branded aspect out of the equation," Arens said. "We wanted to do more than that. We wanted there to be a relationship component in this."

So Catalyst decided to emulate the flash sales model popularized by Gilt and its competitors—a model that fashion companies first saw as a way to unload excess inventory, but which they are starting to embrace as a way to reach new customers. Through Good Buys, publishers and networks can offer special deals, which are then sent out in an email. Currently this goes out every two weeks, but Catalyst plans to make it weekly. (The first couple of newsletters included inventory from ad tech company ContextLogic and online travel company See Jane Fly, for example.)

To ensure that those media buyers can make big purchases at a significant discount, Catalyst requires publishers to take at least 50 percent off their standard rate and to offer media buys of at least $25,000.

This isn't how media buyers or publishers are used to doing things, Arens admitted, so it's going to be challenging to sell them on the idea. Still, there's clearly some interest—more than 5,000 buyers have already signed up for the newsletter.